Government policies failed to protect the most vulnerable of patients, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: England
Last reviewed: 27 April 2022

Responding to the High Court ruling that Government policies on discharging patients from hospital to care homes at the start of the Covid pandemic was unlawful, Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA consultants committee chair, said:

 “This Government and the then Health Secretary have been held to account for ignoring the risks and growing evidence that discharging elderly patients into care homes at the start of the pandemic was a huge mistake – a mistake that sadly led to the deaths of so many. This tragic situation was the direct result of decades of underinvestment in the NHS and poor planning that left the health service woefully unprepared to cope with the pandemic. The lack of beds in the NHS, together with virtually no access to rapid Covid testing, ultimately led to infectious patients being discharged into care homes in order to allow others unwell with Covid to be admitted to hospital.

“It is clear that the policies at the time failed to protect the most vulnerable of patients and were compounded by limited access to testing in care home settings, the inability to isolate patients and the extreme shortages of PPE. This facilitated outbreaks to spread within care homes, sadly leading to the deaths of many. This is a profound failure in the Government’s duty of care to these people, their families and to care home staff.

“It’s heart-breaking that the Government ignored the evidence that was clearly available at the time that Covid was an airborne virus, effectively sending these elderly people into an environment where the virus could spread and infect so many. And all the while, the Government assured us it was working tirelessly to protect the public. Our patients, their families and our dedicated staff across health and social care deserved better."

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.